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Historic Preservation Week


This week is National Historic Preservations week. Too often we drive through the countryside and see the remains of old buildings, no longer viable, deserted. The families who laughed, played, cried and struggled to tame the land are long gone and the house and barn are left to the elements. Once the barnyard was full of chickens, horses pranced in the corral and even a few cows and pigs ambled about.

Buildings such as the Frank Hutmacher site northwest of Manning in Dunn County are important reminders that so many immigrants came to North Dakota bringing their own traditions with them. The sandstone slab structures utilized local building materials. In a region almost devoid of timber, the builders used only a few wooden poles from trees along a nearby creek bed. Although the original homestead was made in 1911, the buildings on the site were mostly constructed in the 1920s and ‘30s. Once surfaced with a clay and straw mixture, the exterior walls were later strengthened with concrete and other materials as weather and time took their toll. Roofs were composed of branches, straw and clay. Several similar homesteads dot this area, all abandoned and all reflecting the lack of suitable building material.

Approximately 40 miles from the Hutmacher site, the Fred Krause house in Hazen reflects the American Four Square style of residential architecture common to the Great Plains in the first quarter of the 20th Century. A square, wood-framed building with narrow clapboard siding, it consists of two stories with living quarters on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor. A large porch dominates the front of the building with the roof of the porch serving as a balcony for the bedrooms on the second floor. A successful businessman, Fred Krause was able to afford the 26 by 28 foot, wooden structure located in an urban setting, and building materials were available via the close proximity of the railroad. Often, the designs for this type of home were featured in the newspapers of the era.

These historic structures, originating at approximately the same time, in the late settlement period of North Dakota, reflect both the environmental and economic conditions of the families who created them. While the preservation of these buildings helps document our rich heritage, to those would lived there, even the old abandoned buildings have a special meaning as noted by Bryce Risser in his poem, The Old House.

And I see a memory

For every weathered board and stone

And I feel a pain in me

For the way that is gone.

...In the corner stands an old wood stove,

Weathered, rusted and looking so forlorn.

Coming back is hard for me-

To think this is the place where I was born.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis


National Register Nominations for the Frank Hutmacher Site and the Fred Krause Home

The Old House by Bryce N. Risser, Copyright 1975 - The Prairie Company.